This is the first in a two-part series! In this post, I’ll describe how I ended up on the nationals podium last weekend. In the next installment, I will talk about where I go from here.

So what happens when you’ve fulfilled a goal that’s been driving you for at least seven years? This is the question I faced on my first spin out on the bike after nationals in Richmond.

Let’s back up. For those of you who aren’t intimitely familiar with my cycling background, for many years I was a huge underachiever on the bike. I started racing in 2005 but never had a structured training plan until this past year. (I also just started training with heart rate this year. And it’s cool to have data after many years of doing my intervals based on perceived effort alone!) I had moderate success in the sport because I love riding my bike. I also enjoy interval training, so when I was in the mood I would crank out some hill intervals or some sprint training.

My lack of structured training didn’t stop me from having lofty goals, one of which was to podium at collegiate nationals in the criterium. Of course, that didn’t happen when I was an undergrad racing for Tufts University and riding the trainer 5 hours per week during the winter months in Boston.

In fact, let’s check out my illustrious 16th place performance in the 2008 crit.

 2008results

I remember being a little crushed at the conclusion of that nationals weekend. But a couple weeks after that race I graduated from Tufts, packed all my possessions up, and moved to Seattle. In Washington State I discovered that riding your bike outside a lot (especially on hills) will make you fast. I upgraded to a cat 2 and had one of my favorite years on the bike while competing with the amazing women of Team Group Health. I also thought a lot about my life goals and decided that I wanted to pursue a PhD in biology.

So after my time in the Pacific Northwest, I returned to my parents’ place in Maryland where I had in-state tuition, enrolled in a bunch of science classes, worked at the National Institutes of Health and at the University of Maryland and continued riding around the traffic-filled suburbs of the DC area. In a little under 2 years, I got accepted into graduate school and decided to move out to UC Davis.

When I joyfully discovered the amazing cycling community in Davis, I started to realize that my dormant dreams of being on the nationals podium could become a reality. That was a strange feeling. After Tufts, I tucked away my collegiate cycling aspirations and focused on my career. But then everything came together the past two years. And last weekend I crossed the line in second place at the nationals crit, with my family and friends watching. Who would have every imagined?!?!

And so where do I go from here? Stay tuned for that…

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